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Empires of Need: Negation as Characterization and Worldbuilding in Adventure Games

Going in and out of fashion, crowding store shelves one moment then nearly vanishing completely only to be rediscovered through the indie ecosystem, adventure games go all the way back to the start of electronic gaming. The genre's birth may be one of the medium's first Great Divides, where similar situations are approached through different mechanics, design elements, and tone. (Another would be the way space combat branched into both turn-based strategic simulation and real-time, reflex-based action early in the mainframe era.) Exploring dangerous labyrinths in search of treasure, the central activity in the newly-published "Dungeons & Dragons" tabletop game, manifested digitally in two distinct forms. Each drew from different aspects of the game: the CRPG , which focused on stat-based actions with randomized variables (primarily combat), and the adventure game , which tried to recreate the narrative component of a DM describing a game's scenario and event
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AI DM: Olyphants from Gemini

How far can we travel down a solo-TTRPG path with AI before we’re stopped? We’ve talked about the ways people solve solo gaming in previous posts . What we’re doing in this series , though, is using AI to create a solo RPG experience that's less bound by the limitations of pre-scripted offerings. While AI has been around for awhile, we’ve really only recently started to see big advancements become available to the general public. In our first post , we used Google's AI Bard to get suggestions on setting the scene, provide feedback on actions, generate random events/encounters, and give prompts to help with brainstorming. We’ve also worked with Bard and randomizers to create a new PC - a bard tiefling Echo Shaw, and even the generalities of an island forest area of Whisperwind. This week, let's address a potential major issue with this project and then focus on creating a particular point of interest in this town. The Olyphant in the Room A funny thing happened when I sat

Control(ler) Yourself!

The paddle. The light gun. The push-button guitar. All manner of joysticks, trackballs, and, of course, gamepads. The Nintendo Power Glove. The Coleco Super-Action. The Brøderbund U-Force. The Sega Toy-let (maybe... don't look that one up). We here at Never Say Dice collectively have lifetimes of experience with electronic games, and have seen all kinds of control peripherals come and go . From the straightforward to the truly bizarre , they all share a common purpose: to act as the medium between player and game, the means by which all interaction occurs beyond the one-way comprehension of audio and visual output. For such a significant role, though, the humble controller seems a little-recognized aspect of gaming as a developing artform and storytelling medium. When an idea catches on, it's quickly taken for granted, while alternate approaches are derided as foolish delusions or gimmickry. So, this week at Never Say Dice, we'd like to steer the conversation to electroni

AI TTRPG DM? OK!

There are many ways to play a TTRPG solo. There are many ways people solve this , and you can see some of them in previous posts - all with their own pros and cons. What we’re doing in this series, though, is using AI to create a solo RPG experience that's less bound by the limitations of pre-scripted offerings. While AI has been around for awhile, we’ve really only recently started to see big advancements become available to the general public. In our first post , we used Google's AI Bard to get suggestions on setting the scene, provide feedback on actions, generate random events/encounters, and give prompts to help with brainstorming. Last time , we worked with Bard and randomizers to create a new PC for the game and ended up with a tiefling bard. This week we’ll take a look at a few highlights of the remaining character creation steps and work with Bard on a starting location. Rounding Out Our Character To finish off the character, randomizers gave us a themed musical inst

Gaming in the Late Stages

So you’ve reached the final level of your game, maybe even the final boss. Or you’ve just hit level 20 in your D&D campaign. Congrats! Those are all fantastic accomplishments. While we do mean the sentiment, that isn’t what we mean by Late Stage Gaming though. So what do we mean by Late Stage Gaming? Like other media before it, it looks like games are starting to push to the subscription only model. A path where you’re not just paying for extras, but paying to maintain access to the game itself. What exactly is happening? What does this mean for us as gamers, both tabletop and digital? When should we really start to worry? Is there anything we can do about it? Won’t somebody please think of the children?!? Sit down with Never Say Dice this week as we try to cover some of those questions in today’s post. - A B : “Late Stage Capitalism” is a term describing the commodification and industrialization of every aspect of life, especially once the profit motive overtakes even elements of

It's a Mystery!

What should you, the detective, do now ? That's one of the first prompts for interaction I ever saw in a mystery game: The Witness by Stu Galley (although modern accreditation would likely say "directed by" rather than attributing the whole thing to him) and  published by Infocom in 1983 for just about every home computer platform then in existence. I acquired the Commodore 64 version from a yard sale and immediately rushed up to my room to try it. I've loved detective stories for literally longer than I can remember - it's simply always been . The complete collection of Strand Sherlock Holmes stories I received for my seventh birthday was one of my most prized possessions and I frequently hauled the massive tome to school with me... even if I never made it past the first few stories. Encyclopedia Brown, a little closer to my demographic, was a hero of mine and I think I had every book in the series (along with the adjacent se ries Encyclopedia Brown's Book o

Enter... the Entrance Theme!

It happens in all sorts of media that incorporates music: movies, TV, plays, audio dramas... a few notes play and, at least if you’re a fan, you know who's about to show up even before they actually enter. It even happens in other live activities such as sports - that song starts, the crowd gets pumped,  and you know exactly who's coming out onto the field or into the ring. While we’ve had posts about music in the form of Never Say Disc , and even a few posts that mention choosing music to set the scene in your tabletop games, we’ve never focused on music for a particular group or character. Something to bring you into the game, get you pumped, put you in the right mindset and/or set you up for a good gaming session. So this week, let’s do just that - discuss using music to bring you into the game and increase your immersion at the tabletop. - A A : Picking intro music for a group can be an easy task, depending upon what you’re playing. If you’re sitting down to a Star Wars se